Shipmate Column
May 2006

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
25 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
h: 828-862-4245  e:
Web site:

For any classmate you can go to the Classmates Page and enter his name to read his current biography if available.

        For the second consecutive month, it is my sad duty to inform you of the loss of three members of the Class of 1963 family. Jack "Kit" Karson died on 20 February while scuba diving at a reef off northern Queensland, Australia. The cause of his death was not reported. Jack's widow, Lillian, can be contacted at 76665 Chrysanthemum Way, Palm Desert, CA 92211-7460. Mike Blackledge's wife, Helen, succumbed to liver cancer on 5 March. Mike's address is 14321 Stalgren Court NE, Albuquerque, NM 87123-2209. Bill Henghold passed away on 8 March, ending his courageous struggle against esophageal cancer. His widow, Judy, can be contacted at 722 SW Lake Charles Circle, Port Saint Lucie, FL 34986. The Class extends its sympathies to the families of these good people who left us too soon.
Kit Karson Helen Blackledge Bill Henghold

I enjoyed speaking with Charlie Musitano in February. He phoned from his home in Huntsville, AL, just to catch up on things. I was surprised to learn that he had bought the sole license and is manufacturing an innovative gem faceting machine. For details, see his web site at . Charlie's passions now include owning and flying a BD-4 aircraft, one of the very innovative (and gorgeous!) aircraft designed by Bert Rutan.
Charlie Musitano

This month's sports photo with text comes from Mickey Mays. It was taken at the Desert Hills Golf Course in Yuma, AZ.
Roommates reunite in Yuma
     The smiling trio are myself, Bill Opitz, and Ed Howard (looking pretty much as we did 2nd Class Year when we were roommates). Bill and Judy have a neat place in Yuma where they "winter over" from Helena, MT. Ed converged from the east (Phoenix) with Marion and me from the west (San Diego). We enjoyed a few excellent days together reliving the past and making plans for the future. The golf was highlighted by completion with no serious injuries.

        One of our most faithful and dependable contributors, Jim Metcalfe, sent this report from a recent Army-Navy tussle:
     Every year that Army wrestles Navy at Annapolis (the even years) we have a team reunion. This year the match fell on the same weekend as the USNA/USMA/USAFA Classes of '63 Valentine's Dance at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA. Some of our classmates had a tough decision -- and lost. Carla and Jeff Miles went to the dance. Fortunately, Lisa was working at a women's symposium at the Virginia Beach Conference Center so I got to choose the wrestling match. The only '63 rasslers present were Ron Tebben, Steve Duncan, and me. I think Ron is close to his original rasslin' weight. Steve claims to be "a few pounds over" -- a prevarication for sure. Me, I won't answer the question -- I know my Miranda rights! Navy, ranked 19th nationally, won the 50th match 24-9, bringing our record against Army to 40 wins, 5 losses, and 5 ties. After the match, we had an "awards" ceremony for the alumni: best cauliflower ear; fattest neck; traveled farthest to get there; farthest above wrestling weight; closest to wrestling weight; most grand children; first on and last on the mat for coaches Swartz, Peery, Hicks, etc. Since Ron and Steve left early, I won the "first on the mat for Ed Peery" by default. Ed started as coach in 1960. He still looks to be in great shape. I certainly wouldn't challenge him today.

        In late November, Lou and I enjoyed hosting Carol and Bob Harper for an overnight visit. They were enroute to their home in Annapolis from a visit with their daughter Denise in Georgia. Here's a snapshot I took early that evening.
Lou Shelley with Bob and Carol Harper

Austin Seay sent a brief note with news of his relocation from the Gulf Coast to higher ground.
     Following the aftermath of Hurricane "Katrina", my wife, Geraldine, and I sold our Mandeville, LA, home on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain and moved to Signal Mountain, TN (a suburb of Chattanooga). After evacuating from Mandeville two years in a row (2004 for "Ivan" and 2005 for "Katrina"), we decided to move to a mountaintop far enough away and high enough so we could watch the 2006 hurricane season in peace and on TV! We will continue to live six months of each year at our other home in Australia.

        An e-mail from Jim Eckland announced that he was to return from Iraq to the United States in early March.
     Thanks for all your e-mail messages, prayers, parcels and other items during my 23 months working on Iraq Reconstruction projects for electrical power and water treatment. It has been a challenge in many ways. Yet thanks to our US and Coalition military forces and our FluorAMEC security teams, l have not feared for my life [more than a few times] or those on our team. The Iraqis who work with us are truly the brave ones as they move daily from the Red to Green Zone and then back to their homes after work.

        Dirck Praeger submitted this colorful reminiscence from our First Class Year at USNA.
     In the summer of 1962 during our leave after First Class cruise, Ron Walters and I purchased a 1949 Chevy for $50 from Walt's older brother in Hays, KS. We named it "St. Christopher" because we weren't sure it would make it from Kansas to Annapolis. We figured that if it didn't we'd just leave it in a ditch somewhere in Ohio and hitchhike the rest of the way. We loaded up the trunk with numerous cases of Coors beer (couldn't get Coors on the east coast then), and a cooler full of iced-down cans in the back seat, and headed east. When the cooler was empty, we'd replenish it from the trunk. We figured that we averaged a beer about every 27 miles during the trip. We threw the empties on the back seat floor. By the time we reached DC, the pile of empties had reached the level of the back seat.

We found a garage for rent just off West Street in a shabby part of Annapolis, about a mile from the Academy. Since we were always short of money back then, we coerced several more members of the Sixth Company to become part owners of "Chris". As I recall the ownership consisted of Walt, Dick Williams, Jim Carter, Bob Borlet, Bill Hughes, Lionel Banda, and me. Our combined resources allowed for insurance payments, garage rent, and gas. You might think that having multiple owners would cause problems, but it turned out that we usually all went on liberty together anyway. Liberty usually meant going to Dave's Corner, a combination feed store and bar/restaurant, and low rent dump in Mayo Beach, MD, which was either right inside the 7 mile limit, or right outside it. Either way we were in violation -- outside the liberty limits or drinking within the limits.

Here's how it usually worked. After Saturday evening meal formation we would all head out the gate and walk to the garage. We'd back Chris out a little and leave the headlights on so we could see inside the garage. Sweatshirts and levis hung from nails in the walls. We changed in the garage. As the doors closed you could see overcoats and white covers on the nails in place of the civvies. We'd head for Dave's and spend the evening drinking cheap, watered down beer and eating greasy hamburgers. They had no idea that we were Mids with our high and tight haircuts, inside out Navy sweatshirts, levis, and spit shined shoes. Then we'd head back and go through everything in reverse at the garage and stagger back to Bancroft Hall. There were many other adventures with Chris during First Class year, but those are for telling at another time.

Before graduation we "sold" Chris to a member of the Class of '65 for ten cents, fully expecting it to crap out before the summer ended. Much to our surprise, Chris was still around when '65 graduated, and it was handed down to a member of '66. For all I know it is still sitting beside a back road in Annapolis as a home for a family of illegal immigrants.

A late addendum from Dirck:

I was surprised to see my story about the Sixth Company car in the May Shipmate Column. Thanks for the consideration. An interesting thing happened as a result of your posting the story on our website. A lady who lives in Mayo, Maryland, where Dave's Corner, the bar we used to visit was, is interested in Mayo history and did a web search which uncovered our site and the story. She lived right next door to the site that Dave's stood on before burning down. You may remember that she routed a message through you to me.

We talked on the phone and it seems her husband, an artist, was going to do a painting of Dave's Corner from an old picture of the place that he had dug up somewhere. After talking to me her husband decided to include our car Chris in the painting. She invited me to join them for lunch sometime in the near future to learn more about Dave's and whatever other aspects of Mayo I may remember from over 40 years ago. Since it was dark and we were'nt seeing too well when we left Dave's on Saturday nights, I doubt I'll be much help. We did rent June Week cottages out there as well, as I mentioned in my earlier Ring Dance Great Escape T.I.N.S. tale. Maybe she can draw some history out of me.

Anyway, I have attached both the picture and a copy of the finished painting, for whatever you may want to do with them. From the images it easy to see how easily it probably burned when it got torched. Just thought that you'd be interested in what you wrought by posting that story on our website.

Painting of Dave's Corner with the '49 Chevy in front
Dave's corner

        We're a bit short for news this month, so I went to my photo archives and pulled out some pictures that were published in Shipmate many years ago. The prints are faded and a bit blurry, so after I scanned them I did some digital touching-up. Here are three images for your nostalgic enjoyment. The first (undated) picture was taken at a dinner at the Newport, RI, Officers' Club. Left to right are Bernie and Betty Patterson, Steve Buescher, Bernie Conatser, Vern Von Sydow, Ron Calhoun, Cliff Barney, and Mario Fiori.
Dinner party in Newport, Rhode Island

The second photo shows Jerry Harken, Dick Wyttenbach, Bob Black, Malcolm Schantz, and Denny Conley in Hong Kong in May 1983.
"Elbow Benders Club" in Hong Kong, 1983

The final image is a picture I took in the early 1980's at our house in Northern Virginia. The occasion was an Army-Navy game party. Classmates in the front row are Mike Lents, Phil Gubbins, Bob Harper, and Jerry Mulholland. In the rear are Jim Ring, Charlie Minter, Tom Reemelin, Ned Ruckner, Dave Byrnes, Steve Reynolds, Norm Shackelton, John McClure, Bob Forster, and Bernie Conatser.
Army Game party at the Shelleys' house

        That's it for now, folks. Please do your part to keep this news exchange in business! We need you.

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   May 2006 
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